ANTO I NE HI) I
^' Of/cac /).!>.
A RESIDENT OF CHICAGO A. D. 1790-
1826. THE FIRST SETTLER OF EVANS-
TON AND WILMETTEC 1826- 1838) WITH
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HIS FAMILY
AND THE OUILMETTE RESERVATION
By FRANK R.« GROVER
EVANSTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY
SEVEN years ago (1901), in a paper read before this
society entitled: "Our Indian Predecessors— the First
Evanstonians," much of the information here given
respecting the Ouilmette family and Reservation was
presented for the first time from original sources and
research. Since then further information has come to
my hands from time to time, and the purpose of this
pamphlet is to preserve for this society in concise form
what has been thus acquired.
While at the present time few residents of this vicinity
or of the North Shore are uninformed, at least to some
extent, regarding Antoine Ouilmette and his family, still,
for the convenience of the future student of local history,
this monograph may be found an improvement on tradi-
tion embellished and handed down by the ever present
F. R. G.
Evanston, 111., May 1st, 1908.
North Shore Residence of Antoine Ouilmette and Family (1828-1844). See page 19
From water color drawing
by Mr. Charles P. Westerfield
The primeval beauty of that ancient forest that stood
on the western shore of Lake Michigan immediately
north of Chicago, and covering the ground that now con-
stitutes the northern portion of the City of Evanston and
the Village of Wilmette, has passed away. Many of its
towering elms and great oaks that have stood for centuries
of time remain to indicate in some measure what was the
real beauty of that forest in the days when this Illinois
country was unknown to white men.
In the place of much of that forest stand costly dwell-
ings; public buildings; paved streets and all the evidences
of individual and public effort that illustrate so graphically
the advance of our western civilization, and especially the
rapidity of growth and enterprise of Chicago and its
suburbs. There is probably no spot in America where such
rapid and marked change has taken place, for there are
-^many young residents of that part of Illinois known in
these later days as the " North Shore " who have observed
step by step these changes that have transformed this wild
woodland into the suburban home of thousands of Chica-
In the midst of this former forest was the "Ouilmette
Reservation. " Those two quoted words have a peculiar
g significance to the few old settlers yet living who knew An-
toine Ouilmette and his Pottawatomie squaw Archange.
To the few lawyers and others who have to do with land
titles and county records they indicate only the legal de-
scription of a tract of land. It is my purpose to relate as
briefly as possible what I have been able to learn of its first
The Ouilmette Reservation and its former occupants and
owners have been the subject of much solicitude and inves-
tigation, not entirely for historical purposes, but more
especially that the white man might know that he had a
good white man's title to the Indian's land. Its southern
boundary was Central Street, or a line due west from the
Evanston light-house; the eastern boundary, Lake Michi-
gan; the northern boundary a little south of Kenilworth
(Elmwood Avenue, formerly North Avenue, Wilmette),
and the western boundary at the western terminus of the
present street-car line on Central Street in Evanston and
Fifteenth Street in Wilmette, from which boundaries it
will be seen that some 300 acres of the Reservation falls
within the city limits of Evanston, while the remainder
includes the greater portion of the Village of Wilmette.
The Reservation takes its name from its original owner,
Archange Ouilmette, wife of Antoine Ouilmette, described
in the original Treaty and Patent from the United States
as a Pottawatomie woman. The name given the village —
Wilmette — originates from Antoine himself and from the
phonetic spelling of the French name l ' 0-u-i-l-m-e-t-t-e, ' '
and is said upon good authority to have been first sug-
gested as the name of the village by Judge Henry W. Blod-
gett, late of Waukegan, who was interested in the very
early real estate transactions of the village.
There are many interesting facts regarding Ouilmette
and his family. Antoine, the husband, was a Frenchman,
who, like many of his coutrymen, came to the West in early
days and married an Indian wife. He was one of the first
white residents of Chicago; some of the authorities say
that, with the exception of Marquette, he was the very first.
He was born at a place called Lahndrayh, near Montreal,
Canada, in the year 1760. His first employment was with
the American Fur Company, in Canada, and he came to
Chicago in the employ of that company in the year 1790.
This striking figure in our local history, and in the very
early history of Chicago, is sadly neglected in most, if not
all, the historical writings. Almost every one in this lo-
cality knows that the Village of Wilmette was named after
him; many misinformed people speak of Ouilmette as an
Indian chief ; a few of the writers merely mention his name
as one of the early settlers of Chicago. And that has been
the beginning and end of his written history.
Ouilmette 's occupation cannot be more definitely stated
than to say that, after his employment by the American
Fur Company, he was an employe of John Kinzie at Chi-
cago, and thereafter in turn Indian trader, hunter and
farmer. He was a type of the early French voyageurs,
who lived and died among their Indian friends, loving more
the hardships and excitement of the Western frontier than
the easier life of Eastern civilization.
Archange Ouilmette, wife of Antoine, was a squaw of
the Pottawatomie tribe, belonging to a band of that tribe
located at the time she was married at "Gross Point," or
what is now Evanston and Wilmette, although the band
were constant rovers over the territory which became later
the states of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
While Archange was of the Pottawatomie tribe, her father,
it is said by one authority, was a white man, a trader in the
employ of the American Fur Company, and a Frenchman,
bearing the rather striking name of Francois Chevallier.
Archange was born at Sugar Creek, Michigan, about 1764,
and died at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1840. (Authority,
Sophia Martell, daughter, and Israel Martell, grandson.)
Ouilmette had eight children, four sons and four daugh-
ters, viz. : Joseph, Louis, Francis, Mitchell, Elizabeth, Arch-
ange, Josette and Sophia; also an adopted daughter, Arch-
snge Trombla, who, on August 3, 1830, married John Mann,
who in early times ran a ferry at Calumet. (Authority
John Wentworth and Sophia Martell, the only surviving
daughter of Antoine Ouilmette. She was still living in
1905 on the Pottawatomie Indian Keservation at St.
If a detailed account of all Ouilmette saw and did could
be written we would have a complete history of Chicago,
Evanston and all the North Shore, during the eventful fifty
years intervening between 1790 and 1840, and it is certain
that he and his family bore no unimportant part in the his-
tory of Illinois during that half century of time.
OUILMETTE AT CHICAGO— THE FORT DEARBORN
It appears from a letter signed with "his mark," written
and witnessed by one James Moore, dated at Racine, June
3, 1839 (corroborated also by his family), that Ouilmette
came to Chicago in 1790. A f ac-simile of this letter, which
is addressed to Mr. John H. Kinzie, appears in Blanchard's
History of Chicago (p. 574), and contains some interesting
facts, both historical and personal. He says :
"My home affairs are sutch that I cannot leave to see you at
"1 cairn into Chicago in the year 1790 in July witness old Mr.
Veaux . . . and Mr. Griano . . . These men ware living
in the country Before the war with the winnebagoes. Trading
with them I saw the Indians Brake open the Door of my house
and also the Door of Mr. Kinzie's House. At first there was only
three Indians come. They told me there was Forty more com-
ing and they told me to run. i Did So. in nine days all I
found left of my things was the feathers of my beds scattered
about The floor, the amount Distroyed By them at that time was
about Eight hundred Dollars. Besides your fathar and me Had
about four hundred hogs Distroyed by the Saim Indians and
nearly at the Saim time, further particulars when I See you. I
wish you to write me whether it is best for me come thare or
for you to come hear and how son it must be Done"
"Yours with Respect"
Antoine X Ouilmette"
"Jas. Moore" mark
The original letter was furnished to Mr. Blanchard by
Mrs. Eleanor Kinzie Gordon of Savannah, Georgia, a
daughter of John H. Kinzie.
Ouilmette owned and occupied one of the four cabins
that constituted the settlement of Chicago in 1803. The
ether residents were Kinzie, Burns and Lee (Kirkland's
Story of Chicago, Andrea's History of Chicago, Mrs.
"William Whistler's letter, written in 1875).
Ouilmette was in Chicago at the time of the massacre of
the garrison of old Fort Dearborn in 1812 by the Potta-
watomies, and his family was instrumental, at that time, in
saving the lives of at least two whites. Mrs. John H. Kin-
zie in her historic book, "Wau-bun" (The Early Day), de-
pcribes the circumstances:
"The next day after Black Partridge, the Pottawatomie Chief,
had saved the life of Mrs. Helm in the massacre on the lake
shore [commemorated by the monument recently erected at the
place], a band of the most hostile and implacable of all the
tribes of the Pottawatomies arrived at Chicago and, disappointed
at their failure to participate in the massacre and plunder, were
ready to wreak vengeance on the survivors, including Mrs. Helm
and other members of Mr. Kinzie's family. Mrs. Kinzie says
(Wau-bun, pages 235, 240) :
particularly awakened for the safely of Mrs. Helm (Mr.
Kinzies stepdaughter). By his advice she was made to assaisn
the ordinary dress of a French woman of the country.
"In this disguise she was conducted by Black Partridge him-
self to the house of Onilmette, a Frenchman with a half-breed wife,
who formed a part of the establishment of Mr. Kinzie, and whose
dwelling was close at hand.* It so happened that the Indians
came first to this house in their search for prisoners. As they
approached, the inmates, fearful that the fair
genera] appearance of Mrs. Hebn might betray her for
can, raised a large feather bed **»*i placed her pawtor t]
it, upon the bedstead, with her face to the walL Mrs. Bisson, the
sister of Ouilmette's wife, then seated herself with her sewing
upon the foot of the bed."
It was a hot day in August, and Mrs. Helm suffered
so much from her position and was so nearly suffocated
that she entreated to be released and given up to the In-
dians. "I can hut die," said she. "Let them put an end
to my misery at once." When they assured her that her
discovery would he the death of them all, she remained
The Indians entered and
from her hiding place, gliding about and stealthily
every part of the room, though without making any
search, until apparently satisfied that there was no
cealed, they left the house. . . All this time Mrs.
kept her seat upon the side of the bed, calmly
arranging the patch work of the quflt on which a
engaged and preserving the appearance of the
lity, although she knew not but the next
receive a tomahawk in her brain. Her self
tionably saved the lives of all present. . .
house the party proceeded to the dwelling of Mr. Kinzie,-
The Indians had just left Ouilmette's house when
Griffin, a non-commissioned officer, who had escaped sod
had been concealed among the current hushes of Ouil-
mette's garden, climbed into Ouilmette's house through a
window to hide from the Indians. "The family stripped
him of his uniform and arrayed him in a suit of deer skin
with belt, moccasins and pipe, like a French engage," in
which disguise he also escaped.
After the massacre, when John Kinzie and all the other
white settlers and their families, fled from the place, Ouil-
mette and his family remained, and he was the only white
resident of Chicago for the following four years, 1812 to
1816. (Kirkland's ''Story of Chicago"; Hurlbut's "Chi-
cago Antiquities.") The reason for their thus remaining
was on account of their friendly relationship with most, if
not all, the Indian population.
In 1814 Alexander Kobinson (afterwards chief of the
Pottawatomies), came to Chicago, and he and Ouilmette
cultivated the field formerly used as the garden of old Fort
Dearborn. They raised good crops of corn and sold the
crop of 1816 to Captain Bradley, after his arrival at Chi-
cago to rebuild the fort. (Andrea's History of Chicago.)
He was still in Chicago in 1821. (Andrea's Id. Kirkland
He had horses and oxen and other stock in abundance.
In the early days he kept a small store in Chicago, and
used to tow boats into the Chicago river with his ox teams.
He also furnished the Fort Dearborn garrison with meat
and fuel and carried on trading operations with the In-
dians along the North Shore from Chicago to Milwaukee
and in Canada, where he frequently went. (Authority,
Mrs. Archibald Clybourne says that Ouilmette raised
sheep when he lived in Chicago, and that her mother, Mrs.
Galloway, used to purchase the wool of him with which she
spun yarn and knit stockings for the Fort Dearborn sol-
Ouilmette was a thrifty Frenchman. In 1825 he was
one of the principal tax payers in Chicago, and paid $4
taxes that year upon property valued at $400, as appears
by an old tax roll, dated July 25 of that year. (Blanch-
ard's "History of Chicago, " p. 517.) With one exception
none of the fourteen tax payers of that year owned prop-
erty in excess of $1,000. 'John Kinzie's holdings appear
on the same roll as worth $500, while those of John B.
Beaubien are set down at $1,000 ; the lowest man on this list
is Joseph La Framboise, who paid 50 cents on property
valued at $50, and Ouilmette 's taxes appear considerably
above the average in amount. He also appears as a voter
upon the poll book of an election held at Chicago on Au-
gust 7, 1826, at which election it is said he voted for John
Quincy Adams for President (Blanchard, Id., p. 519),
which is the last record I have been able to find of his resi-
dence in Chicago.
Oiulmette was a Roman Catholic. In April, 1833, he
joined, with Alexander Robinson, Billy Caldwell, several of
the Beaubiens and others, in a petition to the Bishop of the
diocese of Missouri, at St. Louis, asking for the establish-
ment of the first Catholic church in Chicago. The peti-
tion (written in French) says: "A priest should be sent
there before other sects obtain the upper hand, which very
likely they will try to do." The early enterprise of the
church is demonstrated by the fact that the petition was
received on April 16 and granted the next day. (Andrea's
History of Chicago.) The seventy-fifth anniversary of the
founding of this church was celebrated with great cere-
mony this year (1908) in Chicago.
This circumstance, in 1833, and many others, seem to in-
dicate that even after Ouilmette's removal from Chicago to
the North Shore he and his family remained intimately as-
sociated with affairs in Chicago.
Mrs. Kinzie took Ouilmette's daughter Josette with her
to the Indian agency of which her husband was in charge
at Old Fort Winnebago, in Wisconsin, on her return from
Chicago in 1831. She describes her (Wau-bun, p. 300) as
"a little bound girl, a bright, pretty child of ten years of
age. She had been at tne Saint Joseph's Mission School."
Mrs. Kinzie at the time of the Black Hawk War (1832)
fled from Fort Winnebago to Green Bay in a canoe and
took this same litle Josette Ouilmette with her (Wau-bun,
That Josette was a protege of the Kinzie family, and that
they took a lively interest in her welfare, Turther appears
from the treaty of 1833 with the Pottawatomies at Chicago.
She is personally provided for, probably at the demand of
the Kinzies, in the following words: "To Josette Ouil-
mette (John H. Kinzie, Trustee) $200." The other chil-
dren did not fare so well, for the treaty further provides
"To Antoine Ouilmette's children $300."
It also seems that the kindness of the Kinzies to Josette
was not entirely appreciated by the Ouilmettes. (See cor-
respondence Evanston Hist. Colls.)
Mitchell Ouilmette, on May 2, 1832 (as John Wentworth
says), enlisted in the first "militia of the town of Chicago
until all apprehension of danger from the Indians may
have subsided" — probably referring to the Black Hawk
War. Mr. Wentworth 's authority is a copy of the enlist-
ment roll, where, in transcribing the copy, his name is
stated as "Michael," an evident mistake in transcribing
from the original signature.
While it is true that Captain Heald of Fort Dearborn
was notified on August 7 or 9, 1812, of the declaration of
war against England by a message carried by the Potta-
watomie chief, Win-a-mac, or Winnemeg (the catfish),
from General Hull at Detroit, warning Captain Heald that
the Post and Island of Mackinac had fallen into the hands
of the British, of the consequent danger to the Chicago
garrison and the probable necessity of retiring to Fort
Wayne, still it is stated upon fairly good authority that
Louis Ouilmette, son of Antoine, when a mere boy, learned
the same facts from a band of Indians on the North Shore,
coming either from Mackinac or from that vicinity, and
at once carried the information to the garrison several
days before the arrival of Win-a-mac. (Authority, data
in hands of Mr. C. S. Raddin.)
Some twenty years later this same Louis Ouilmette ren-
dered further substantial aid to the whites in the Black
Hawk War. Mr. Frank E. Stevens, in his recent book
(1903), "The Black Hawk War" (p. 130, 131, 149), seems
to be the only writer who has given him the deserved
though tardy recognition to which he seems to be so well
entitled. He is there spoken of as "a French trader, thor-
oughly familiar with those parts (Western Illinois and
Wisconsin) and with Indian character." It seems that at
this time he was a trader frequenting La Sallier's Trading
Post, Dixon's Ferry and other points in that vicinity, ren-
dered valuable assistance as an Indian interpreter and
scout. (See Mr. Stevens' book and letters from him, Ev.
Hist. So. Colls.; Reynolds' "My Own Times," p. 361;
Memories of Shaubema, p. 184; also Life of Col. Dement.)
From the foregoing facts it is evident that Ouilmette lo-
cated in Chicago in 1790, and lived there for some thirty-
six years, and that, as will be shown later, some time be-
tween 1826 and 1829 he located within the present limits
cf Evanston or "Wilmette Village, and certainly within
OUILMETTE AND FAMILY ON THE NORTH SHORE.
The Indian Treaty of Prairie du Chien, which will be re-
ferred to more in detail later, in describing the boundaries
of a part of the lands ceded by the Indians, and dated July
29, 1829, begins the description as follows :
''Beginning on the western shore of Lake Michigan, at
the northeast corner of the field* of Antoine Ouilmette, who
lives near Gross Point, about twelve (12) miles north from
Chicago, thence due west to the Rock River," which is the
first evidence I have found of Ouilmette 's permanent resi-
dence in this vicinity, although he was married to Archange
in 1796 or 1797 at "Gross Point," or what is now Wilmette
Village and Evanston, this being the first North Shore
wedding of which there is any history. (Authority, Sophia
This latter circumstance would seem to clearly indicate
that the band of Pottawatomies to which Archange be-
longed was located more or less permanently at this point
on the North Shore in the eighteenth century.
John Wentworth says in his reminiscences that Ouil-
mette's daughter, Elizabeth, married for her first husband
on May 11, 1830, Michael Welch, "the first Irishman in
This wedding, with the son of Erin groom and the Potta-
watomie bride, was celebrated in an old log cabin that stood
until 1903 on the east side of Sheridan Road at Kenilworth
and about two blocks north of the Kenilworth water tower.
The writer took a kodak picture of this log cabin shortly
before it was removed, copy of which appears in a paper
entitled "Some Indian Land Marks of the North Shore,1'
read before the Chicago Hist. Soc. February 21, 1905. (See
also Evanston Hist. So. Colls.) This cabin was built by
* Present golf grounds of the Ouilmette Country Club, property of the North-
one John Doyle, who, considering his name and date of
residence, may be safely designated "the first Irishman of
the North Shore, ' ' for it is certain there are few living wit-
nesses who can successfully dispute this statement, nor can
any good reason be shown why the North Shore should not
have its "first Irishman" as well as Chicago.
The authority as to this being the house where the wed-
ding was celebrated is Mr. Charles S. Raddin of Evanston,
who secured the information some years ago from Mrs.
Archibald Clybourne, who may have been present at the
wedding, although Mr. Raddin neglected to ask her. Mr.
Raddin was further neglectful in failing to get the name of
the best man and maid of honor, and whether they were
Irish or Pottawatomie. The ceremony was performed by
John B. Beaubien, a justice of the peace, as is shown beyond
question by the records of Peoria County.
Ouilmette and his family lived in this cabin at the time
of this wedding and for some time thereafter, although
their most permanent abode was about a mile south of
there, and will receive later mention. (Authority, Sophia
Martell, who has examined a copy of this photograph and
identified it, and who also corroborates Mr. Raddin regard-
ing her sister 's wedding. )
THE INDIAN TREATY OF PRAIRIE DU CHIEN JULY 29, 1829,
—ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE OUILMETTE RES-
IN THE INDIAN TREATIES.
The treaty of Prairie du Chien with the Chippewa, Ot-
tawa and Pottawatomie Indians, by which the reservation
was ceded to Ouilmette 's wife, was concluded July 29,
1829. Among other provisions of land for Indians and
others, Article 4 of the treaty provides as follows :
"To Archange Ouilmette, a Pottawatomie woman, wife of An-
toine, two sections for herself and her children on Lake Michi-
gan, south of and adjoining the northern boundary of the cession
herein made by the Indians aforesaid to the United States. . .
The tracts of land herein stipulated to be granted shall never be
leased or conveyed by the grantees, or their heirs, to any person
whatever, without the permission of the President of the United
The land was surveyed by the government surveyors in
1842 and the patent therefor was issued October 29 of the
This treaty is of special historical interest. By it the
United States acquired title from the Indians to all of the
land within the city limits of Evanston and great tracts to
the west, bounded as follows : Beginning at the north line
of Ouilmette's reservation, or a little south of Kenilworth*
on the Lake Shore, due west to the Rock River, thence down
the river and east of it to the Indian boundary line on Fox
River, established by the treaty of 1816 ; thence northeast-
erly on that line to Lake Michigan, thence north along the
lake shore to the place of beginning.
[The line mentioned as running "northeasterly to Lake Michi-
gan" is the center of the street in Rogers Park, known for many
years and in our records as the "Indian Boundary Road," now
unfortunately changed by direction of the City Council of Chi-
cago to "Rogers Avenue." It is about half way between Calvary
Cemetery and the Rogers Park depot; crosses Clark Street or
Chicago Avenue at the site of the old toll-gate and Justice
Murphy's birthplace on the opposite corner. There should be
active co-operation in restoring the name "Indian Boundary" to
this highway. I am informed that the name was changed at
the solicitation of Mr. Rogers' family. He was, no doubt, a
worthy pioneer, but his name seems to have been sufficiently
perpetuated by the name Rogers' Park which was the former
village, now annexed to Chicago. There is, too, a railroad sta-
tion there of that name and many real estate subdivisions also
bearing his name. This Indian Boundary line is not only a
great landmark, but the treaty which fixed it has great historical
significance in the development of Illinois. This line is referred
to in many maps, surveys, deeds and conveyances, is in part the
dividing line between the cities of Chicago and Evanston, runs
in a southwesterly direction, intersecting other roads and streets
in such manner as to make it an important and distinctive high-
way, the importance of which will grow more and more as the
years go by. The disinclination of City Councils to disturb his-
torical landmarks by changing the names of old highways should
surely have been exercised in this instance. Both the Chicago
and Evanston Historical Societies in joint session at Chicago,
November 27, 1906, by urgent resolutions requested the City
Councils of Evanston and Chicago "To change back to its
original form the name of this highway, thus restoring to it its
former proper and historic name 'Indian Boundary Road.' " It
is to be regretted that such action has not yet been taken.]
This treaty also included a vast territory lying between
the Mississippi and Rock rivers in Illinois and Wisconsin,
f,nd was planned, it is said, with reference to the succeed-
ing Treaty of Chicago in 1833 to finally clear Western Illi-
* Elmwood Avenue in Wilmette Village.
nois and Southern "Wisconsin of the Indians. "By its pro-
visions the Indians became completely hemmed in, or sur-
rounded. To use a common saying in playing checkers,
the Indians were driven into the 'single corner' before
they were aware of it." (Haine's American Indian, p.
This treaty was the entering wedge, designed, as above
stated, to eventually oust the Pottawatomies and other
tribes from Illinois and Wisconsin, and the manner in
which its execution was secured reflects no credit upon our
nation. If the writers who have investigated the subject
can be relied upon, hardly any treaty with the Indians ever
made is subject to more just criticism.
It is claimed by Elijah M. Haines, author of "The Amer-
ican Indian, ' ' that the two sections of land constituting the
Ouilmette Reservation, were given to Ouilmette's wife and
children as a bribe for the husband's influence in securing
the execution of this treaty. Mr. Haines, late of Wauke-
gan, was for some years Speaker of the Illinois House of
Representatives, and spent a portion of each year for many
years among the Indians. In his book he devotes some
ten pages (550-560) to "the ingenious work in overreach-
ing the Indians in procuring the execution of this treaty, ' '
from which it appears, if Mr. Haines is correct, that plans
were laid in advance by the Government's agents to carry
it through by electing chiefs to fill vacancies in the Potta-
watomie tribe who were not only friendly to the whites, but
who were parties to a prior conspiracy to dupe the Indians.
As the author says, "the jury, being thus successfully
packed, the verdict was awaited as a matter of form. ' ' Mr.
Haines seems to have reached this conclusion after careful
investigation, including personal interviews with some of
the principals, among whom was Alexander Robinson, one
of the chiefs who was elected at the very time the treaty
was signed. Mr. Haines sets out a personal interview be-
tween himself and Robinson on the subject, which is as
"Mr. Robinson, when and how did you become a chief?"
"Me made chief at the treaty of Prairie du Chien."
"How did you happen to be made chief?"
"Old Wilmette, he come to me one day and he say: Dr. Wol-
oott" (then Indian agent at Chicago, who Mr. Haines says,
planned the deal) "want me and Billy Caldwell to be chief. He
ask me if I will. Me say yes, if Dr. Wolcott want me to be."
"After the Indians had met together at Prairie du Chien for
the Treaty, what was the first thing done?"
"The first thing they do they make me and Billy Caldwell
chiefs; then we be chiefs . . . then we all go and make the
Chiefs Robinson and Caldwell were handsomely taken
care of, both in this treaty and subsequent ones, in
the way of annuities, cash and lands, as were also their
friends. Archange Ouilmette, Indian wife of the man des-
ignated by Chief Robinson as "Old Wilmette," and her
children thus, according to Mr. Haines, secured the two
sections of land constituting the Reservation under discus-
sion and which seems to show, if Mr. Haines is correct, that
Ouilmette was, indeed, as already stated, a thrifty French-
[See map of 1851 in paper, "Father Pinet and his Mission of
the Guardian Angel of Chicago," Evanston and Chicago Hist.
So. Colls, showing Reservations of Ouilmette, Billy Caldwell,
Alexander Robinson and other parties to this treaty.]
There is ample ground, however, for disagreement with
Mr. Haines in his voluntary criticism of Ouilmette in this
transaction. It must be borne in mind that Ouilmette and
his family were not only friendly to the whites during the
stirring and perilous times at Chicago in the War of 1812
and also in the later Black Hawk War, but they themselves
had suffered depredation at the hands of the Indians, as
shown by Ouilmette 's letter to John H. Kinzie. Then, too,
he was occupying this very land, then of little value, and,
considering his fidelity to the Government, notwithstand-
ing his marriage to a Pottawatomie wife, it would seem that
this cession of these two sections of land, under the circum-
stances, was entirely right and probably very small com-
pensation for his friendly services. Then, too, it must be
remembered that he did not get the land, but it went to his
Pottawatomie wife and her children.
Mr. Haines says of this transaction and Dr. Wolcott 's
and Ouilmette 's connection with it (p. 557) : "In aid of
this purpose, it seems he secured the services of Antoine
Wilmette, a Frenchman, who had married an Indian wife
of the Pottawatomie tribe, one of the oldest residents of
Chicago, and a man of much influence with the Indians and
a particular friend of Robinson 's."
It is fair to say that Mr. Haines excuses both Robinson
and Caldwell for their action in the matter on the ground
that they had long been friendly to the whites and were
misled into believing that the integrity of their white
friends was as lasting as their own (p. 556). It is to be
regretted that Mr. Haines did not express the same views
as to Ouilmette, for history clearly demonstrates that he
was richly entitled to it.
This statement of Mr. Haines the writer called to the at-
tention of Sophia Martell and her son, and we have his
written reply thereto to the effect that "it is all rot/' and
that if it was true "Antoine Ouilmette would have re-
ceived other and different lands for himself," and this
reservation was theirs "by right," and "their share of
lands allotted to the Pottawatomies and to different fami-
lies at that time." (See Ev. Hist. So. Colls.)
Ouilmette was also on hand when the Treaty of Chicago
(1833) was negotiated, as he was at Prairie du Chien, for
the treaty not only provides for the donations already men-
tioned to Chiefs Robinson and Caldwell, to Ouilmette 's
children and others, but he secured $800 for himself, as the
treaty shows. Whether this was compensation for his
hogs that had been "distroyed" some thirty years before
by the Indians (mentioned by him in the Kinzie letter), or
as further compensation for his prior services at Prairie
du Chien or at Chicago in 1812, is not disclosed, but it cer-
tainly is evidence of his desire to see that his finances
should not suffer in deals made with his wife's relations.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE PIONEERS.
The acquaintance of the first white settlers with the Ouil-
mette family on this reservation is of interest. To some
of their reminiscences reference will here be made :
In a letter written by Alexander McDaniel to the pub-
lishers of Andrea's History of Cook County (1884), and
quoted in that work (p. 465), Mr. McDaniel thus describes
his first trip to the North Shore and his first observation of
the Ouilmette family.
"On the 14th of August, 1836, I left Chicago in the morning
and about noon I brought up at the house of 'Anton' Ouilmette.
The place was then called 'Gross Point,' being located about four-
teen miles north from Chicago on the Lake Shore. The house
that the 'Wilrnette' family then occupied was a large hewed log
block-house, considered in those days good enough for a very
congressman to live in, at least I thought so when I was dis-
patching the magnificent meal of vegetables grown on the rich
soil, which the young ladies of the house had prepared for me.
I was then a young man about twenty-one years old, and this
being my first trip out of Chicago since I had come West, I
naturally was curious to know more about my hosts. Upon in-
quiry I soon found out that the family consisted of Anton and
Archange, the heads of the family, and their eight children, —
Joseph, Mitchell, Louis, Francis, Elizabeth, Archonce, Sophia
and Josette, Lucius R. Darling, husband of Elizabeth, and John
Deroshee, husband of Sophia; the father being a Frenchman
and the mother a half-breed. The children were nearly white,
very comely, well dressed and intelligent. Josette, in fact, had
obtained quite a reputation as a beauty. The Wilmettes owned
cattle, horses, wagons, carriages and farming implements, work-
ing a large tract of land.
"After leaving the family I passed along in a northwesterly
direction to where Winnetka is now located. There I purchased
the claim on 160 acres of Government land of Perry Baker and
Simeon Loveland in March, 1837, built a house on the land and
kept 'Bachelors' Hall' there for five years. I had occasion to
become very well acquainted with my Indian friends and found
them most agreeable neighbors."
(McDaniel moved to Wilmette in 1869. Andrea's Id.)
The following is quoted from Andrea's History of Cook
County, p 465 :
"About the time Mr. McDaniel settled at Winnetka . . .
Charles H. Beaubien, a cousin of Mark, settled near the center
of Section 27, on the place now occupied by Henry Gage. Charles
Beaubien, like his cousin, Mark, was a great fiddler and always
in demand at dances attended by the few blooming white girls
of that vicinity and those of a duskier tinge. The Wilmette
family were upon such occasions in almost as pressing demand
as Beaubien himself."
Joseph Fountain, late of Evanston, now deceased, says
in an affidavit dated in 1871 that when he first came here
he lived with Antoine Ouilmette; that at that time he (An-
toine) was an old man, about 70 years of age, and was liv-
ing upon the reservation with his nephew, Archange, his
wife, being then absent. * * * That within a year or
two thereafter the children returned and lived with their
father upon the reservation. The children went away
again and returned again in 1844. They were then all
over lawful age, had usual and ordinary intelligence of
white people and were competent to manage and sell their
property. * * * That he was acquainted with the chil-
dren and their father and after their return assisted them
in building a house to live in on the reservation. That
during the last twenty (20) years the Indian heirs have not
been back there. * * * That in the years 1S52 and
1853 the land was not worth over $3.00 per acre."
On inquiry in 1901 of Mary Fountain, Joseph Foun-
tain's widow, a very old lady,* and by like inquiry of Mr.
Benjamin F. Hillf and others, the writer ascertained that
this house of Ouilmette's just mentioned was built of logs,
situated on the high bluffs on the lake shore, opposite, or a
little north of Lake Avenue, in the Village of "Wilmette,
and that the former site of the house has long since and
within the memory of old residents, been washed into the
lake, many acres of land having been thus washed away.
Mr. Hill says that this house was at one time occupied by
Joel Stebbins, who used it as a tavern.
In 1857 John G. Westerfield acquired that part of the
reservation where this house stood and in the year 1865
"tore the old house down." (Andrea's Hist, of Cook
County, p. 466.)
Mr. Charles P. Westerfield, surveyor and a veteran of
the Civil War, now living in Waukegan, son of John G.
Westerfield, in a recent letter (March 9, 1908), corrobo-
rates this statement as to the location of this cabin with
the exception that he says it stood just a little north of
what is now Lake Avenue, or, to be exact, immediately east
of the present Ouilmette Country Club House. The fol-
lowing is quoted from the same letter :
"Quite a little grove that stood still east of the cabin site In
1857, when we first occupied the land, was also washed away. I
remember that part of the logs of the Ouilmette cabin were used
by father to build a cowshed on the old place; he also saved some
of the parts as relics, but I presume they are now lost . . .
I remember that my child-like curiosity was aroused on at least
two occasions, as I watched a small squad of Indians turn out
from the old Green Bay Road and go up to the old cabin and
look it over as though they were familiar with it, and then again
* Mrs. Fountain died in Evanston, February 17, 1905.
t Benjamin F. Hill died in Milwaukee. Wisconsin, October 7, 1905, his residence
up to that time, however, having been in Evanston.
resume their tramp, up to about the year 1860-61, the passing of
two or three Indians at a time along the Green Bay Road was a
There is no photograph of this cabin known to be in
existence but Mr. Westerfield has a very distinct recollec-
tion of its appearance and has at the writer's request kindly
utilized both his recollection and ability as an artist, in
supplying this society with a water color drawing of it
(see original drawing Evanston Historical Society Colls.,
and half tone reproduction — frontispiece, page 2, supra.)
Should the present intention of the citizens of Wilmette
and of the Sanitary District of Chicago to create and main-
tain a public park at this place on the lake front, built by
spoil excavated from the Drainage Canal now in progress
of construction, be carried out, it is respectfully suggested
that the Evanston Historical Society or the citizens of Wil-
mette, or both, erect at, or near the foot of Lake Avenue,
on the former site of the cabin, a suitable monument bear-
ing in substance the inscription :
"On this spot stood the Log Cabin of
Antoine Ouilmette, the first permanent
white settler of Chicago (A. D. 1790) and of
the North Shore (A. D. 1826-1841). He
married a Pottawatomie woman of the
band of that Indian tribe, located here in
the 18th Century. To her and her children
this land was granted as a Reservation by
the Indian Treaty of Prairie du Chien, July
29, 1829. From him the Village of Wil-
mette derives its name."
Within a very short distance of Ouilmette 's cabin
(about 100 feet north) was an Indian mound which had
been used for burial purposes — not a large mound but a
small one some 10 to 15 feet in length and about 4 feet in
height — later this mound was obliterated in plowing of the
field by farm hands of Mr. John G. Westerfield and later
by the washing away of the embankment by the action of
the lake. One of Mr. Westerfield 's employees, Daniel Ma-
honey (now deceased) while plowing with an ox team
about the year 1857 or 1858 over and around this mound
plowed up several implements including a small steel
tomahawk now in the collections of this society — a loan
exhibit by Mr. Charles P. Westerfield who is authority for
this item (see his letters Ev. His. So. Colls., under title
The affidavit of Mr. Fountain indicates that Ouilmette
lived on the reservation until 1838. His letter of 1839 in-
dicates a residence at Racine, at which place he had a farm
for several prior years, and while living in Chicago, or at
least a tract of land where he frequently went. (Author-
ity, Sophia Martell.)
Mr. Benjamin F. Hill says that he knew him about the
year 1838 ; that he was then a very old man, rather small
of stature, dark-skinned and bowed with age; that about
that year he went away. He died at Council Bluffs, De-
cember 1, 1841.
Mr. Hill says that Mr. Fountain omits in his affidavit
one item concerning the acquaintance between Ouilmette
and Fountain, viz., a lawsuit in which Ouilmette prose-
cuted Fountain and others for trespassing upon the reser-
vation by cutting timber, which resulted unfavorably to
Ouilmette ; that there was a large bill of court costs, which
Fountain 's lawyer collected by having the sheriff levy upon
and sell a pair of fine Indian ponies belonging to Ouil-
mette, which were his special pride, and that it was imme-
diately after this incident that Ouilmette left the reserva-
tion, never to return.
In the years 1843 and 1844 " several of the family re-
turned" to the reservation, ''occupying the old homestead
until July of the latter year." (Andrea's Id., p. 466.)
The value of the timber probably accounts for the selec-
tion of this land by Ouilmette when the treaty was drawn.
There are many other interesting reminiscences among the
old settlers of Evanston regarding Ouilmette. One from
William Carney, former Chief of Police of Evanston and
for many years a Cook County Deputy Sheriff, who was
born in Evanston, is to the effect that Ouilmette often went
through Evanston, along the old Ridge trail on which the
Carneys lived, on foot, and always carrying a bag over his
shoulder; that the children were afraid of him, and that
Carney's mother, when he was a small boy, used to threaten
him with the punishment for misconduct of giving him to
"Old Wilmette," who would put him in the bag and carry
young Carney home to his squaw. Mr. Carney says:
1 1 Then I used to be good." And it is local history that in
later years my youthful associates used to say something
to the same effect about " being good/' after an interview
vith Mr. Carney himself, when he had grown to manhood
and became the first Chief of Police of Evanston, his
brother John constituting the remainder of the force. In
those days too, "Carney will get you if you don't look
out!" was a common parental threat in Evanston. (Mr.
Carney died in April, 1907, at Evanston.)
SALE OF THE RESERVATION BY THE OUILMETTE
As already shown, neither Archange Ouilmette nor her
children could, under the Treaty and Patent, sell any of
the land without the consent of the President of the United
States. Consequently there is much data respecting the
family both in the recorder's office of this county and in
the office of the Interior Department at Washington, espe-
cially in the General Land Office and the office of Indian
Affairs. To some of these documents I refer :
By a petition dated February 22, 1844, to the President
of the United States, signed by seven of the children of
Ouilmette (all except Joseph), it appears that Archange
Ouilmette, the mother, died at Council Bluffs November
25, 1840, that six of the children signing the petition then
resided at Council Bluffs, and one (probably the former lit-
tle Josette) at Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin Territory; that
in consequence of their living at a remote distance, the land
is deteriorating in value "by having much of its timber,
which constitutes its chief worth, cut off and stolen by
various individuals living near by," which would seem to
indicate that people were not so good in those days in Ev-
anston as they have been reputed to be in some later days,
if the Chicago newspapers can be believed in this respect.
The petition further says : ' ' The home of your petitioners,
\?ith one exception, is at Council Bluffs, with the Potta-
watomie tribe of Indians, with whom we are connected by
blood, and that your petitioners cannot, with due regard
for their feelings and interests, reside away from their tribe
on said Reserve"; also that they have been put to expense
in employing agents, whose employment has not been bene-
The petition then asks leave to sell or lease the land, and
the prayer concludes in the following words :
"Or, that your Excellency will cause the Government
of the United States to purchase back from us said Reserve
of land and pay us one dollar and twenty-five cents per
1 ' And your petitioners further show that they are now at
Chicago on expense, waiting for the termination of this
petition, and anxious to return home as soon as possible,"
and request action "without delay."
As the result of this petition and subsequent ones, Henry
W. Clarke was appointed a special Indian agent to make
sale of the Reservation, or, rather, that part of it owned by
the seven petitioners, so that a fair price could be obtained,
and sale was made to real estate speculators during the
years 1844 and 1845. In the correspondence between the
various departments of the Government with reference to
the sale, appear the signatures of John H. Kinzie, John
Wentworth (then member of Congress), William Wilkins,
Secretary of War; President John Tyler, W. L. Marcy,
Secretary of War; also the signatures of President James
K. Polk and U. S. Grant. (For copies of these documents
see Evanston Historical Society Collections.)
The south half of the Reservation, including all that is in
Evanston (640 acres) sold for $1,000, or a little over $1.50
per acre. The north section was sold in separate parcels
for a larger sum. The correspondence tends to show that
the seven Ouilmette children carried their money home with
them, but as the Special Indian Agent had no compensation
from the Government and there were several lawyers en-
gaged in the transaction, the amount that the Indians car-
ried back to Council Bluffs can be better imagined than
Joseph Ouilmette in the year 1844 took his share of the
Reservation in Severalty, deeding the remainder of the
Reservation to his brothers and sisters, and they in turn
deeding his share to him. The share that he took was in the
northeastern part of the reservation; he secured the best
price in making a sale and seemed inclined, not only to
separate his property interests from his brothers and sis-
f ers, but to be more of a white man than an Indian, as he
did not follow the family and the Pottawatomie tribe to
the West for several years, but adopted the life of a Wis-
consin farmer, removing later to the Pottawatomie Reser-
vation in Kansas, at which time he was a well known man
at Saint Mary's, Kansas.
An affidavit made by Norman Clark, May 25, 1871, states
that Joseph Ouilmette was in 1853 a farmer, residing on
his farm in Marathon county, Wisconsin, " about 300 miles
from Racine/' and that the $460 he received for his share
of the Reservation "was used in and about the improvement
of his farm," upon which he lived for about seven years,
and that he was capable of managing his affairs "as ordi-
nary full-blooded white farmers are"; that from 1850 to
1853 he carried on a farm within two miles of Racine, pre-
sumably on the land formerly owned by his father, An-
It appears from various recorded affidavits that*all of the
children of Ouilmette are now dead. Such affidavits must
have been made from hearsay and with a view of extin-
guishing upon the face of the records all possible adverse
claims, for, as heretofore stated, Sophia Martell was living
at last accounts (1905) on the Pottawatomie Reservation in
Kansas, at a very advanced age, but with a good memory
that has served a useful purpose in supplying the writer
with some of the facts here noted. With this exception, all
of the children are dead, but many of their descendants are
still living on this same Kansas Reservation, and several of
them are people of intelligence and education, prizing
highly the history of their ancestors. (See correspondence
with them, Evanston Hist. So. Collections.)
The only relic of Antoine Ouilmette in the hands of the
Evanston Historical Society is an old chisel, or tapping
gouge used by him in tapping maple trees in making maple
sugar on the Reservation, at a point a little west and some
two blocks north of the present Wilmette station of the
Northwestern Railway, immediately west of Dr. B. C.
Stolph's residence. This chisel or gouge was secured by
Mr. Benjamin F. Hill in this sugar bush soon after Ouil-
mette went away, and there is not the slightest doubt of its
being the former property of Ouilmette, for Mr. Hill was
not only the John Wentworth of Evanston in the matter of
being an early settler (1836), with a great fund of authen-
tic information, but was a man of force and intelligence,
of excellent memory and unquestionable integrity, and al-
ways interested in historical subjects, as his many valuable
contributions to the Evanston Historical Society abun-
dantly show. (See Hill Exhibits and papers.)
Mr. Edwin Drury of Wilmette Village, presented (1908)
to this society a very curious relic found within a short dis-
tance of the former site of the Ouilmette cabin and of Mr.
John G. Western" eld's former residence, viz., a very odd
piece of broken statuary, dug up by workmen in making
an excavation. This broken image was found in a bed of
blue clay, some three feet below the surface, immediately
under a large wild crab apple tree, the age of which would
seem to indicate that the soil had not been excavated nor
disturbed for very many years. Whether Mr. Drury 's
suggestion that it might be a relic of the early Jesuits pos-
sibly of Father Pinet, who founded in this vicinity a mis-
sion among the Miami Indians in the year 1696, is a ques-
tion respectfully referred to the local archaeologist. It is
at all events an interesting object for study. (See Mr.
Drury 's letter regarding same, Ev. Hist. So. Colls., title
RECENT LETTERS FROM A GRANDSON OF OUILMETTE.
There is every reason to believe that Antoine Ouilmette
and his family well deserve what little of compliment has
here been paid to their history and memory. Should any
incredulous reader, however, be inclined to doubt that Ouil-
mette and his descendants were people of ability or that the
flight of time has added any enchantment to this view, the
writer would for illustration refer to the correspondence
with I. J. Martell, a grandson, on file in the collections of
this society. One of these letters, written in a fine hand,
showing that the writer has not been inattenive to the ad-
vantages of a common school or commercial college educa-
tion, and that he at least respects the traditions regarding
his grandfather (though with an inclination not to exag-
gerate the Indian blood in his veins), will here be quoted.
This letter is as follows :
"Kansas City, Mo., August 22, 1905.
"Mr. Frank R. Orover, Chicago, III.
DEAR SIR: Your letters with interrogatories received and in
reply thereto, will say: That I am one of the sons of Mrs. Sophia
Martell; and a grandson of Antoine and Archange Ouilmette, of
whom you inquire.
My Mother is visiting me here, and from her I get the informa-
tion you desire.
Much more can be said of her and her parents that is hard
to put on paper, but which I can tell verbally.
She is now the only one of the eight children of Antoine and
Archange Ouilmette living, and is still hale and hearty with
good memory and understanding, and she remembers many
things of importance regarding the old times.
Her father, Antoine Ouilmette, was a Frenchman, who came
to your city in its earliest days from Canada.
Her mother, Archange Ouilmette, was more French than In-
dian, as her father was also a Frenchman by the name of
Francois Chevallier, and her mother was half French and Indian.
From all I can learn, and what I have always heard, Antoine
Ouilmette was a progressive, energetic man of good business
ability for those times, he accumulated considerable property.
He had a store in Chicago, and also a fine lot of horses, cattle,
sheep and hogs. He also had a farm at Racine, Wisconsin,
which he frequently visited while living in Chicago. He also
made occasional business trips to Milwaukee and Canada.
He furnished the Fort with beef and pork and also cordwood,
in the later days of his residence in and around Chicago. He
had the contract to pilot the lake boats up the Chicago River
with cattle, of which I am told he had 100 yoke.
He was known as a kind, whole souled, generous man of
remarkable energy and perseverance, who made friends with
everybody, both Indians and whites, and he in turn was univer-
sally liked and respected. He was very methodical in his habits
and ways of doing business, and noted everything down on
paper, and prior to his death he left a trunk full of papers which
he prized as being valuable.
I can get more detailed information from one of my cousins,
now an old man, and also from an old lady who both now live
in Oklahoma, concerning him, as they both knew him personally
and lived with his family in Chicago.
I would be glad to see and tell you more of him and his
family after seeing the parties I refer to, and would like to hear
from you at an early date regarding the matter.
If you will bear expense of trips I will go at once to Oklahoma
and see them, and then to Chicago and see you.
Can furnish photos of my mother, Joseph and Frank Ouil-
mette, and may be able to get something of the kind in Okla-
Awaiting an early reply and trusting that I may be of further
service to you, I am Very respectfully yours,
I. J. MARTELL."
711 Locust St., Kansas City, Mo.
More than a century has rolled by since this French
voyageur first saw the site of Chicago. The snows of eighty
winters have come and gone since he and his Pottawatomie
squaw made the same choice of a home, in the forest on the
shores of old Lake Michigan, that their Anglo-Saxon suc-
cessors later also chose and now enjoy and occupy. Their
log cabin has passed away. They themselves years ago de-
parted forever to "the undiscovered country. " The wig-
wams of the Pottawatomies have long since completed the
many successive stages of their westward journey, but we
may still enjoy in reverie, if not in recollection, and despite
the ceaseless change of the twentieth century, the Ouil-
mette Keservation and the North Shore as it used to be.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
ANTOINE OUILMETTE, A RESIDENT OF CHICAGO